Create the Business You Want
SHOP STATS: Auto Check Elite Location: KATY, TEXAS Operator: Matthew Roayaee Average Monthly Car Count: 620-650 Staff Size: 9 Shop Size: 9,000 square feet; Annual Revenue: $2.5
For years, Matthew Roayaee had a singular goal: build his dream shop.
At the time, in 2005, he was working his first job at a repair shop, and as he gained more and more knowledge and more confidence alongside it, he realized that he wanted to own his own shop—and fast. Within five years, to be exact.
It wasn’t lost on Roayaee what a large undertaking this was.
“I worked at the shop from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and then I worked at a restaurant from 7 p.m. to midnight, including Sundays,” he says. “I was able to accumulate cash, I didn’t have kids, and my wife was my girlfriend at the time [and] we didn’t have a lot of big expenses; I went to the bank, presented my business plan, and they lent me the money.”
After accumulating $40,000–$50,000 for the business, Roayaee became owner of the eight-bay shop and realized the importance of being on the same page as staff members.
“My goal was to have a successful business,” Roayaee says. “Every change that I made in the shop was to provide a better service for the customer, and I had people that didn’t want to take orders from me or believe in what I wanted, and that didn’t work for me. Eventually, I had to clear house.”
But, clearing house was also an opportunity—an opportunity to actually build the business the way he wanted to with a team that believed in what he was trying to accomplish.
Today, Royaee operates Auto Check Elite in Katy, Texas, an operation that recently brought in $2.5 million with only eight members on his team. His shop, now the fourth business he’s operated as an owner, is considered his “garage,” and a place that he’s happy to arrive to early in the morning, as well as stay after late in the evening.
Since day one, Roayaee has worked to create a brand that is not only customer-first, but loyalty-first in every aspect of the business. And he’s done that in a number of unique, creative ways—including his building, his customers and his staff.
Those three components are how he’s folded comradery and loyalty into the making of his operation, creating a place that is fun to work at for his team and enjoyable to visit for his customers.
Roayaee’s fourth shop was a work in progress for Roayaee. When it came time to building “the garage,” it was important to bring all of his lessons to life and ultimately create a facility where his business continued to thrive.
“I had a vision for what I wanted,” Roayaee says. “It was a very stressful two years of my life (finalizing decisions for the shop).”
In order to create a facility that emphasized growth, Roayaee decided to think outside of the box and create a place where those in the industry could stop by for industry training. During the construction of the building, Roayaee decided to replace plans of having a 2,200-square-foot upstairs loft area with an educational, classroom setting that could be used by his staff members as well as those in the industry.
In the past, Roayaee says there were numerous inconvenience related to sending staff members to outside training: employees had to sit in traffic after hours, it cost money for the shop, and employees lost portions of their evening.
“Instead of us going to all of these training courses after hours when we’re tired, what I do is I tell the instructors to come and do their class upstairs,” Roayaee says. “I don’t want any money; they are welcome to use our facility, our bathrooms, our kitchen—the only thing that I ask is that my guys go for free.”
The loft has been used by the shop to put on classes, and every class that is hosted in the loft is attended by Roayaee’s staff members.
“People that put the class on advertise it and they let people know that the class is at this address,” Roayaee says. “Everybody that comes here just loves the place.”
Last year, the shop held roughly six training session in the classroom, saving the shop an estimated $400–$600 per session.
Owner takeaway: By hosting classes inhouse, Roayaee’s staff has gotten the chance to attend educational seminars for free.
Out of the eight staff members at Roayaee’s shop today, three staff members are from the first shop, two are from the second shop, and the last two were hired at the location.
“I don’t have a lot of turnover because I really take care of my people,” Roayaee says.
One night after work, Roayaee was talking with employees when one mentioned he had never been to SEMA, and the other said he had never been to Vegas. To inspire his staff, Roayaee decided to create a goal that resulted in a trip to SEMA.
“I was trying to motivate them and this goal was one they could achieve,” Roayaee says. “They were ahead of time, so I put a little cherry on top: if they did this next goal within the next quarter, than I would fly [them] first class.”
Sure enough, the service goal was reached, resulting in three staff members flying first class with Roayaee for The SEMA Show in 2015.
“It was a very expensive week for me,” Roayaee says. “Most of our equipment is what we as a team purchased at SEMA, [so] therefore, they’re so proud of it; they feel like they had the right to choose and their opinion matters.
“A majority of it is in use today and they still tell the story.”
Bonding is important for Roayaee’s staff, and he says the trip is one of the many outside events his employees have embarked on together as a team.
“What helped the most besides the experience we gained at SEMA and the memories that we made, the technicians that went with me choose the equipment [for the shop],” Roayaee says. “I did it just because they take ownership of it now, they’re proud of it and they’re the guys that said, ‘Let’s get this.’”
Owner takeaway: When you bring your team together to help your business, it inspires growth inside your shop as well as teamwork among the whole staff.
In order to create a successful business, you have to be a place to which customers want to bring their vehicles. At Roayaee’s shop, customers are able to get a glimpse of who is working on their car by the way the lobby is set up.
“In our lobby, there’s three big tool boxes as a service advisor desk, and above every desk is a giant TV,” Roayaee says. “Most will put their menu or prices [on the screens], but mine doesn’t say that.”
When customers are waiting in the lobby, they can learn about different elements of the shop through the following television broadcasts such as animations of work that is done in the shop as well as candid moments around the business.
“The one on the left shows a profile of everyone that works here: name, last name, where they’re born, what they’ve achieved in their lives,” Roayaee says. “Below, it shows what their hobbies are and we [also] have nicknames for everybody—it’s something that I’ve been doing for everybody.”
According to Roayaee, having everyone’s profiles up on the television screen allows customers to really get to know who is working on his or her car.
“It’s awesome because the customer sits in the lobby, sees that there’s only 7-8 of us and it’s a very good bonding experience between the team members and the customer,” Roayaee says.
The last two televisions feature an educational video or animation explaining a certain repair to customers, as well as candid shots from around the shop.
“The third one shows us at work; it could be us working on a cool car, it could be a big project, or we have an oil barrel that spills and I’m the one taking a picture of it,” Roayaee says. “Customers love it because it makes us human.”
Owner takeaway: When your customers know who is working on their vehicles, they build a further connection with the shop and are motivated to come back in for future business.